Why this Christian doesn’t want to put the “Christ” back in “Christmas”

Why this Christian doesn't want to put the Christ back in Christmas

You know those people in your Facebook feed? The ones who are yelping that Christmas is too commercial now and that no one remembers that “Jesus is the reason for the season”? The ones who are crusading to “put the Christ back in Christmas”?

Those people drive me nuts.

I think they are missing a huge point: Christmas has evolved to be a holiday for everyone who wants to celebrate it – whether they are Bible-loving Christians or not.

I feel perfectly comfortable saying this, and I’m a Christian – Catholic, to be exact. I know the original, religious meaning of Christmas, and my family and I celebrate it. We’ve got the Nativity scene and the advent wreath. We (try to) go to church. I even started reading a daily advent devotional this year.

But I don’t claim Christmas as only mine.

I’m more than okay with Christmas being everyone’s holiday. I love that Christmas has become a celebration of all that’s good in society: Peace. Hope. Joy. Love. Happiness. None of those things is specific to a religion. They’re specific to humanity.

Yes, Christmas absolutely has its roots in Christianity. It is a religious holiday for many people. Whether some people like it or not, though, Christmas doesn’t HAVE to be about religion for everyone.

So many things about Christmas have nothing to do with baby Jesus being born. Actually, ancient pagan practices are what drive a lot of the things we love about Christmas. Santa is secular (he has Christian roots, sure, but he’s totally secular now). Christmas trees, twinkling lights, festive wreaths, gingerbread houses…these are all fun Christmas things that aren’t religious, and as a Christian I’m totally okay with that.

By the way, we live in America, my friends. Not everyone is Christian, and many people have no reason or desire to celebrate Christmas, due to religious or other beliefs. We need to keep this in mind. I struggle with the fact that, even though I love it, Christmas permeates every aspect of American life in December. That’s difficult even if you view Christmas as a secular holiday, but still don’t celebrate it. But as we all know, Christmas isn’t going anywhere. Ever. It will always be a thing in America. Christianity has always been a part of our social fabric and probably always will be, for better or for worse. Faced with that fact, I like the idea of making this time of year as inclusive as possible, while not shoving Christmas in the faces of those who don’t want it.

I think a lot about my friends who are not Christian and feel overwhelmed by all the Christmas stuff for six weeks a year. I cringe when I’m at the grocery store and the Christmas music is blaring to an obviously culturally-diverse crowd. There’s not a whole lot that I can do to ease the onslaught of Christmas on my non-Christian friends, but I do what I can. I send out a holiday card instead of a Christmas card. I educate my kids about different cultural beliefs (and thankfully, their schools do an excellent job of this, too). And when I see a friend who I know is celebrating a different tradition, I ask about her celebrations and how things are going. Isn’t that the most Christian – and just plain kind and caring – thing to do?

As for the people who rage that commercialism has ruined Christmas? Whatever. It’s only ruined Christmas if you’ve let it. Christmas is about giving! What’s better than that? It’s all about spreading joy through holiday cards and reconnecting with friends at parties. Baking, cooking, making merry – all to celebrate the things that make life wonderful, like friends, family, and community. Many, many people spend much of this season donating time, money, and gifts to those less fortunate. Between my church, my girls’ schools, and my girls’ Girl Scout troops, we are giving left and right – and it’s awesome.

So if you’re Christian, sure – don’t forget the reason for the season. Celebrate Jesus’ birth and all the joy that goes with it.  But please don’t begrudge non-Christians their Christmas, too. You don’t have to be religious to celebrate the meaning of Christmas – which I’d argue is love. And love belongs to everyone.

What are your thoughts on Christmas and religion?

PS: If you want more thoughts on Christmas beliefs, check out this post on the day a little girl made a big announcement about Santa to my kindergartener’s class. Uh-oh.

PPS: And if you want some holiday funny, here’s how NOT to get a great holiday card photo of your kids, and my (fictional) humble brag Christmas card letter I wrote for Jen at People I Want to Punch in the Throat. Plus you can read about why my Elf on the Shelf is defective. And naughty. Happy holidays!

{homepage photo credit: jacilluch via photopin cc}

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37 Replies to “Why this Christian doesn’t want to put the “Christ” back in “Christmas””

  1. Lately, I’m annoyed by Saving Christmas – it’s a holiday that only needs to be saved it you’ve forgotten the reason for it. I respect your opinion about Christmas being everyone’s holiday and that we all enjoy the secular things about the holiday. Personally, I’ve never understood why nonChristians celebrate it. This holiday is about what you make it about.

    Nice thought-provoking writing, JD.

    1. Thanks, Courtney. You’re such a wonderful writer, so that means a lot. “Saving Christmas” isn’t one I’ve heard around here, but I think that would annoy me even more. I did some reading on why non-Christians celebrate Christmas, and I found that many people said exactly what I suspected: The spirit of giving and love is what appeals to them. And that’s something everyone can get behind!

      1. Saving Christmas was a movie with Kirk Cameron. He’s so over the top these days…. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saving_Christmas). But the whole Jesus is the Reason, and other superior thinking drives me batty and Facebook is the most annoying thing on the Internet any more. Christmas is a deeply personal religious holiday for me. I don’t care how or why others celebrate it. I understand the giving part, BUT shouldn’t we give all year?

  2. I was wondering where you were going to go with this, and I think you put a great positive spin on it. It’s true that there are so many lovely, fun, wonderful things about this time of year that anyone can celebrate no matter what religion they are (and lots of great songs that are simply about winter).

    1. Thanks, Kathy! I think the idea of claiming Christmas as only for a certain group is just plain strange. I agree with you – there’s so much positive, wonderful things to love about this time of year. And the spirit of Christmas (giving, love, peace, etc.) belongs to anyone who wants it, in my opinion. 🙂

  3. I love this. I, too, am annoyed when people bet bent out of shape about how much Christ there is in Christmas and whether we say Happy Holidays or not. I am also a Christian and celebrate his birth this time of year, but respect my friends who celebrate peace, and family.

    Thought provoking and, of course, timely. Thanks.

  4. I am so tired of the “war on Christmas” crap that Bill O’Reilly started. Christmas is still what it always has been I don’t feel my Christmas is threatened by anyone not celebrating Christmas. Just like I don’t think my marriage is threatened by a gay marriage.
    Thanks for writing this!

  5. There is absolutely a good, and moral, and vibrant, and uplifting secular holiday that is
    Christmas, as much as there is a religious, holy celebration in rememberance of the birth of
    Christ (who was probably not, no way, no how, born in December).

    Christians celebrating Christmas as the holiday that marks the brith of Jesus Christ is in no way threatened by people who choose to celebrate Santa Claus and his emphasis on giving and thoughtfulness and the joy of friends and family.

    I’ve never understood the near militant ownership of Christmas that Christians claim. Yes, yes, the obvious claim is the name if the holiday itself, but it’s willful ignorance to deny that a second holiday has grown with the religious one. And that other Christmas, the one about a sleigh full of toys for good girls and boys, does not reject Christ. It does not denounce Christianity. It simply ignores it. Or, more aptly, runs parallel to the Christ child celebration.

    And that’s not something that should bother Christians. It doesn’t prevent us from singing praises about the birth of our Redeemer. It doesn’t make the faith less important. It doesn’t suddenly turn believers away. We Christians are able to continue to worship as we wish. And non Christians are able to celebrate. And the very worst thing that can come of it is a time of increased joy, empathy, and giving for all people.

    Something a certain millennia old hippie would have dug the most, man.

    1. GAH! I love you so much. I want to copy and paste this everywhere I see people complaining about Christmas being celebrated incorrectly. How can any celebration of joy and peace and giving and family be wrong in any way??

      And accepting other people’s ways of being joyful isn’t being ‘politically correct’ – it’s being a basic nice human. Not even exceptional levels of nice – just basic. Sheesh. People who parade around their fear of being forced to be PC need to get over themselves. (Sorry – I don’t think you said anything on that subject. I’m irritated by someone else’s comment. :-P)

  6. I completely agree! Of all the holidays this time of year, it’s the only one that really feels inclusive. So I also get annoyed when some Christians try to “take it back.” There are zillions of ways to celebrate Christmas – I say let everyone do their thing.

  7. Excellent post! As a family who celebrates Christmas to an extent, but doesn’t affiliate with a religion, I appreciate your recognition that Christmas and the Christmas season is more about sharing, goodwill, joy, friendship, and ultimately love.

    So, I totally agree with you in that we should allow people to celebrate (or not) however they please without attempting to force our own issues or ideas or ideals on others. I also think we should be doing that every day of every year though. 🙂

  8. Thank you so much for publishing this. I keep seeing the memes in my facebook feed and it bothers me every time I see it. In my heart, Christmas is about love for all mankind, not just the ones who say Merry Christmas.

  9. This is the GREATEST post about Christmas I have read, as of yet! You touched on all the points that I make to my kids about Christmas & the differences of views every culture within America has. Thank you for speaking this aloud & putting it out there. It should be a mandatory pre-holiday read for the whole country.

  10. I was hoping that this would actually be a thoughtful commentary about how Christians are supposed to love everyone regardless of their beliffs, and how Christians are actively alienating people with their complaints and exclusiveness surrounding the Christmas season.

    Instead I found a simple article about bowing down to political correctness and worshiping at the feet of people-pleasing. Disappointing.

  11. Huh. Sorry you feel that way. I think I did exactly what you said: I wrote how I think Christians are supposed to love everyone and they are alienating people with their screeches about "taking Christmas back." And then I explained why I think Christmas should be a more inclusive holiday and it belongs to anyone who wants to celebrate it. If that makes me "politically correct," then I'm 100% okay with that!

  12. I did not get this from the article at all.. She expressed her opinion about how "Christians" should act "Christianly" accepting and including everyone..Believers and non believers.

  13. Very thoughtfully written. I don’t agree with all of it, but I appreciate everyone’s right to have an opinion. Having said that, for those who don’t believe in Jesus, don’t bash the holiday and post pictures and sayings making fun of Christmas. It’s insulting to those of us who have no doubt about His existence. Be joyful if that’s what you claim you want from this time of year. There are many holidays celebrated in December. I have no problem saying “Happy Holidays.” But if you celebrate Jesus’ birth on December 25th, Merry Christmas!

  14. WOW, sure could have used the space to tackle a REAL issue related to the season . . . . how the Michael Brown scene & related issues relate to the reality of CHristmas OR perhaps how name of Christmas could be changed to better reflect the primary focus of the season { and I am not Black nor an agnostic]!!

  15. A very different perspective and after reading it, I realize that it is very true and right. I shall celebrate Christmas even more deeply now, as this is my belief and tradition. And the commercialization and secularization will no longer have any effect on how I will continue to celebrate, for we all should be able to celebrate this wonderful day of love and giving in the manner that suits each of us best. A Merry and Blessed Christmas to all.

  16. I don't see anything in that article about "people pleasing" anywhere. She said exactly what you were hoping; that Christians should embrace all of us, even though of us whose beliefs are Jewish. Personally, I think the article is marvelous.

  17. Honest Mom I guess I was just hoping for something longer, since I like long, in-depth articles about hot button issues. I wrote my own article at the suggestion of someone on facebook in the reply to the original thread where I saw your post. http://lawfulcowgirl.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-message-to-everyone-who-has-opinion.html I just personally have no use for political correctness, because 1) the bible does not call anyone to be PC and 2) it doesn't serve a purpose other than walking on eggshells. But this article is still very much worth the read and i'm hoping you're not offended by my response, as I was simply hoping to open dialogue.

  18. You’re right – commercialism can only ruin Christmas if you let it. Whenever someone mentions the war on Christmas, I’m like are you kidding me? Like you said the whole month of Dec & part of Nov. are taken OVER by Christmas (& I’m catholic too). But I think about what it must be like for all the people who don’t celebrate yet can’t get away from Christmas exploding everywhere. I like Christmas, of course, but I think all religions should work toward inclusion.

  19. As a Christian, your title sucked me in. I believe that Christmas was created for celebrating the season with family and friends. Yes, Santa was created to bring magic and gifts to the children. I am one that believes that Christmas is getting more materialized. I remember growing up that it was always fun to get gifts from everyone but those gifts don’t always have to be “stuff”. What happened to making goodies and spending time together.

    I know that I have lost some of it myself. I grew up where my family always focused on spending time together making all of the fun holiday candy, cookies, and treats. I even made my own goodies. This is something that I have failed to do with my own children. I miss this deeply. I haven’t always had family around and my own mother passed away 4 years ago. Its rough.

    I do take my Children to church and we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. I know that if I didn’t have that relationship with Christ that I would have given up on life a long time ago. I suffer from Chronic pain and life isn’t always easy. I haven’t worked in almost 3 years and its had been a tough road for my family financially, physically, mentally, ect.

  20. I was raised muslim. I’m not very religions but being raised in America, I just felt like Christmas was this wonderful, cozy, humbling time of year. I looked forward to it every year. I watched all the specials on TV. I was thrilled to hear all of the Christmas music blaring through the stores and the radio. Even back in my home country, where there are Christians, Christmas is not celebrated on a scale this massive as one would see in America. The message of humanity and kindness resonated with me more than anything materialistic. It was an annual restoration in humanity for me because people would be so kind and wonderful. I personally love Christmas and the spirit of the season and I’m so touched to see that a Christian is embracing other people that celebrate Christmas.

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